f you’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience the heat wave that swept the UK last week then you’ll probably agree that appetites change from being food dominant to a welcome craving for frosty, cold and delicious beers. Iced rose if thats more your thing, or perhaps just a freshly made lemonade in the sunshine. However, food still has its place but freshness, lightness and nothing too heavy takes the culinary crown. This salad was perfect after what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. After trawling over London for a meeting – which at the time felt dramatically reminiscent of a desert voyage – I was in no fit state for cooking anything too warm later that evening….
This therefore seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh salad but one to replenish the nutrients. And time to crack out an ingredient that’s been waiting patiently in my pantry for the past few months. A little gift from overseas from the Norwegian’s. I’ve not seen a oil like this before but have been delighting in it since. Whilst I’ve tried flavoured oils in the past which I’ve found to be either bland or synthetic, this little oil/balsamic combo – mandarin oil with an epic peach and apricot balsamic – served neat and combined in equal measures with some crusty bread for dipping was amazing! I instantly thought seafood, fennel, and raw salads….after thoughts of frosty beers and rose. I did mention it was very hot…
With a lack of garden space or even a balcony in London (sympathy welcomed) there was sadly no place for a BBQ here. But if you do then this would be an amazing salad served with charred barbecued squid or octopus. Or keep it simple and griddle your asparagus or sea bass. The smoky bbq flavour is perfect for anything citrus here.
Like I said, its a meal for a hot day…minimal effort, more an assembly of flavours. Feel free to add in any other ingredients of choice or fish and seafood.
*NOTE – if you’ve no time to pop to Norway for these delights, a really good extra virgin olive oil with either a generous squeeze of lemon/lime/orange would work a treat. Try adding a few very thin slices of orange segments or grated zest too. Blood orange if you’re feeling extravagant.
- 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus spears
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced wafer thin (using a mandolin if you have one)
- 1 handful walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
- Small bunch fresh basil and mint, finely chopped
- 1 lemon/orange/lime
- Extra virgin olive oil and 1 orange OR flavoured citrus oil or equivalent to above
- 2 sea bass fillets (or as above, squid, octopus etc)
- Hest a frying pan/griddle pan to medium high and add a splash of light olive oil. Griddle the asparagus spears to just take off the rawness for a few minutes until beginning to char. Season and remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts and finely chopped herbs.
- When the asparagus spears have cooled a little, add them to bowl.
- Season and grate in the zest of half the lemon.
- The next bit if up to you. Add the citrus oil, and the juice of half a lemon or add the juice of an orange/lime and some plain, extra virgin olive oil. Its all about taste. You need a fresh citrus flavour but it needs to be balanced.
- Set aside once done. Fry your fish and serve atop your fresh salad.
I served mine alongside some roasted carrots …I’ll admit this isn’t supporting the cooling and ‘non hassle’ trend I championed above. What can I say, the frosty beer worked a treat…
- Slice 2-3 large carrot into chunky diagonal chunks
- Season and drizzle with olive oil
- Scatter with 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
- Roast for about 25 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Check after this time and leave in longer if needed.
- 5 minutes before they look ready, add 1 btsp running honey and combine. roast for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and served, slightly cooled, with your citrus salad (also lovely to add chopped parsley and crumbled feta/goats cheese)